- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 4, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A proposal that would offer basic gun safety education to Utah middle schoolers passed its first legislative hurdle on Wednesday.

A state Senate committee approved the measure, which would provide voluntary firearm safety lessons for eighth graders. The bill, which is sponsored by Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, will next go to the full Senate for a vote.

Weiler said the proposal would not allow actual firearms to be brought into a school building. Instead, the curriculum instructs students not to touch guns and to tell an adult if they come across one.

His measure would give the state attorney general control of the firearms safety curriculum.

Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Saratoga Springs, said he was concerned that by telling kids to run away from a gun, “we are reinforcing an irrational fear.”

The classes, Weiler argued, are simply a start. He said gun-friendly parents would be able to supplement the information at home as they might do with classes such as sexual education.

Former state representative Sylvia Andersen told Madsen that the curriculum would acknowledge that guns can be a useful tool and can be handled responsibly with parents. She said it is important for students to know that a gun found in an unexpected place should not be handled and should be reported.

The measure is also on the agenda for a Wednesday meeting of the Utah Parent Teacher Association, said Debi Tabor, the organization’s Director of Advocacy.

Tabor said she and the PTA will need to review the legislation in more detail, but so far she is excited about it.

Dan Deuel, an instructor for the National Rifle Association, said he also supported Weiler’s legislation.

Deuel said it is reasonable to teach children not to touch guns since it is illegal for a child to possess a firearm unless they are with a parent or guardian.

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Online: SB 276: http://1.usa.gov/1B5HE2U

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